Zambians warmly welcome the South African President Mr Jacob Zuma to our Country, and hope his visit will further improve the existing fraternal relationships between the ANC and the people of Zambia, that date back to the dark days of apartheid.
We applaud President Zuma for his unflinching commitment to democratic governance in his great Country, and also his adherence to civil liberties that include freedoms of expression, assembly and association.
We are keen followers of South African parliamentary politics, and appreciate its vibrancy and candour, which has in certain instances not necessarily favoured the President, but we have been moved with nothing but great admiration that he has still remained, firm, resolute and accommodating to those with opposing views to his, despite several lawmakers’ sometimes racous dissensions and walkouts on his State of the Union addresses.
As a matter of fact, we are reminded of his sideline press briefing in Durban a few months ago, where he stated that South Africa under his watch would allow freedoms of expression for all its citizens, and would not fall into a trap of dictatorship being experienced in other Countries where freedoms were endangered. “You are free to visit and experience a Country where an angry leader sets his Police to beat up citizens and lock them up”.
It’s in view of the foregoing that we firmly believe that Mr Zuma is well positioned to put pressure on his beleaguered Zambian counterpart, President Edgar Lungu and remind him that elected officials need to be held accountable for their actions or inactions.
Mr Lungu has crossed the red line in the history of Zambia’s political discourse, by abrogating all democratic tenets with impunity. His dictatorial tendencies is well on course to erase last traces of democratic governance as we know it in Zambia.
His sustained efforts of flouting democratic norms is well displayed in persecution by prosecution of political opponents, trumped up criminal charges of those with dissenting views, long jail terms mostly without trial for those that refuse to do his bidding, and unleashing of Police and his militias to brutalise and torture anyone who dares to think differently from him.
President Lungu has not ended there but has gone further by ensuring that most of the free press has been closed, while the remainder is under constant threat of closure and it’s staff have been intimidated and sometimes arrested.
Mr Zuma will appreciate that ordinary poor Zambians whole heartedly endorsed and allowed President Kenneth David Kaunda’s great and sustained efforts to fight successive apartheid regimes in South Africa. Kenneth Kaunda and his citizens refused to adhere to politically correct positions and views under the so called ‘quite diplomacy’ and ‘constructive engagement’, as he vehemently refused to be mute despite the incursions and bombings of infrastucture and loss of thousands of Zambian lives, at the hands of South African racist forces.
Zambians are in dire need of a voice at this dark hour, as the Nation is under siege by a threat of dictatorship and the breakdown of the rule of law, and the demise of constitutionalism. It would not be asking too much if Zambians requested South Africa to reciprocate, by simply standing with us at the darkest hour of our history.
It is our fervent prayer that President Zuma will carry this message to President Lungu rather than opt for meaningless state banquet praise speeches, that our SADC subregion is known for.
We therefore remain hopeful that His Excellence President Jacob Zuma will emulate his Ghanaian counterpart President Nana Addo who bluntly counselled Lungu during his visit to Zambia to respect democracy, the rule of law and human rights. President Zuma will appreciate that today, Zambia is counting on South Africa, just like his Country counted on the people of Zambia in the days of apartheid and racial discrimination against the masses of that Country.
Dr Nevers Sekwila Mumba